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The Images You Choose in Cause Marketing Activations

The image you choose to illustrate a cause marketing campaign matters. A lot.

That’s because very few people in the United State from ages 25-45 really read anymore. But a cause marketing activation in print requires literacy. So the job of the illustration... along with the headline... is to draw people in for the explanation. The images are no less important in cause marketing activations online or on video.

In general terms cause marketing activation refers to how you promote the campaign.

Witness then the illustration in this effort from Massage Envy for their Healing Hands for Arthritis promotion coming up on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. On that day, Massage Envy will give $10 from every massage and facial to the Arthritis Foundation. In addition, on Sept. 19 Murad will donate 10 percent of sales of its skincare products sold at Massage Envy locations.

Massage Envy is a franchise with more than 700 locations in 43 states. Its business model is like that of a health club. Memberships are $49 to $59 a month, depending on the location, and include one massage per month at no additional charge.

Pictures of hands are usually a visual trope. You know what I mean; the close-up shot of the handshake is a classic example. It’s meant to suggest partnership or friendship. But it’s been done to death. For causes another visual trope is the tiny little hand of a premie reaching for a much larger adult hand.

But the photo-illustration here in this ad from Redbook magazine is subtly different. The hand in the middle is arthritic, with the tell-tale signs of the disease at the joints. Surrounding the hand, it would seem, are the hands of a skilled masseuse. It’s nice.

The only trouble with the illustration is that if you’re just scanning the magazine, which is what a lot of readers of Redbook probably do, it would be easy to miss the subtle cues. That is, if you’re just scanning this shot, all that might register in your pre-frontal cortex is the expected clichés of hands holding hands.  

What should the agency do that prepared this ad for Massage Envy? Truthfully, were I the art director I might have picked a hand model whose arthritis was even more pronounced.


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